PEMBROKE — A proposal that would prioritize the application process for receiving housing rehabilitation services from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina was sent back Thursday to the council’s Housing Committee after concerns were raised that it was discriminatory.
Ed Brooks, the tribe’s attorney, told the council that giving priority on housing rehabilitation services to those 62 and older based on their age is age discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an illegal way of distributing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.
“We are under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and it is prohibited to determine and provide services based just on age,” Brooks said. “To do so would be in violation of (Native American Housing and Self Determination Act).”
Councilman McDuffie Cummings disagreed, citing the sovereignty granted to American Indian tribes.
“My interpretation of the law is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968 does not apply to Indian tribes,” he said.
Anita Blanks, who chairs the tribe’s Housing Committee, last month described the proposed ordinance as setting guidelines for acceptance of housing applications and establishing a priority order for getting the work done for tribal members in a more timely and fair manner.
“We have people who have been waiting 12 years for help,” she said. “Many have fallen through the cracks. This is a terrible situation and needs to be addressed.”
As proposed, the ordinance would authorize the tribe’s Housing Department to establish an Elders list of applicants age 62 and older. The first application processed would be the oldest, with the following applications being processed in the order of the oldest dates of applications received. This process would be followed until all of the Elders currently on the list for housing rehabilitation have been served.
After the current Elders list is complete, applications would be processed according to the application date by a ratio of 75 percent by the date of application and 25 percent by Elder designation, according to the ordinance.
In other business Thursday, the council:
— Approved an ordinance that requires the executive branch of the tribal government to prepare and present the tribe’s annual Indian Housing Plan to the Tribal Council for review one month before the plan must be presented to HUD for its approval.
— Voted down a proposed ordinance amendment that would have given the tribal chairman 10 days to sign or veto any ordinance submitted by the Tribal Council for his approval. Failure to act on the ordinance within 10 days would mean the ordinance has the chairman’s approval and be considered to have become law.
Under the current ordinance, the chairman has 30 days from the date the ordinance is submitted by the council for his approval or veto.
— Recognized the tribe’s ambassadors for their service to the tribe.
— Observed the swearing in of a Sharee Strickland as a member of the five-member Board of Elections.